Were it your personal bank account, you would get it -- and change your ways. But it is not your personal bank account, it is the Treasury of the United States -- funded by your tax dollars and money borrowed in your name -- and it is now controlled by elected officials of both parties who do not seem to get it at all.
If you want to take a look at the Treasury Department's latest statement for its bank accounts, it is available online now at fms.treas.gov/dts/index.html. The statement is like a fiscal snapshot of a nation rapidly descending into bankruptcy.
According to the Daily Treasury Report for Feb. 28, the federal government took in $851.47 billion in revenues in February -- which included $63.7 billion in new net debt. On the other side of the ledger, it spent $1.009 trillion over the course of the month, including $585 billion to redeem maturing government securities. That gave the government a deficit for the month of $158.5 billion.
To keep the national debt from growing by more than the $63.7 billion in new net debt the Treasury undertook in February, the Obama administration drew down the Treasury's cash reserves to cover the shortfall.
At the beginning of February, according to the statement, the Treasury had $349.1 billion in cash in its accounts. At the end of February, it had only $190.6 billion.
Taking a slightly longer view, it is clear that from January to February the government significantly altered the way it handled its money. In January, the government indulged a great deal more net borrowing -- adding $105.8 billion in net debt. At the same time, it did not drain its cash account at all. Instead, it started the month with $342.7 billion cash on hand and finished with $349.1 billion.
But by the end of January, in addition to having amassed $349.1 billion in cash reserves, the Treasury had also amassed a total national debt of $14.131 trillion, of which $14.078 trillion was subject to a legal $14.294 trillion limit on the national debt. Heading into February, the Treasury was only legally authorized to borrow another $215.4 billion. If it continued to increase the debt at January's pace of $105.8 billion per month, it would take little more than two months to exhaust the government's legal borrowing authority.
As Matt Cover pointed out in a recent CNSNews.com report, as the Treasury approaches the debt ceiling, it can draw down its cash reserve. That is exactly what it did in February.
The problem with this tactic is that if the Treasury continues to draw down its cash reserves at February's pace of $158.5 billion per month, it will drain its remaining stash of $190.6 billion in less than five weeks.